chapter  2
ByEinar Thomassen
Pages 9

The word ‘philology’ is commonly used to refer to two distinct albeit variously inter-related areas of scholarly pursuit. On the one hand, it can be a type of study whose primary object is language; on the other hand, it is a name for the methodical investigation of texts. 1 The difference between the two roughly corresponds to the distinction made by linguists between language as a system and language in use (or langue vs. parole , as Saussure says). The study of language as a system includes such topics as lexicography and grammatical structures; actual, recorded instances of the use of words and phrases may be quoted for the purposes of illustration or documentation, but the study of those instances is not a goal in itself. The latter, however, is precisely the purpose of the philological study of texts: here the description and the interpretation of the individual linguistic utterance in the form a document is the principal object of interest.